KIMBALL ART CENTER
PARK CITY, UTAH, USA
The design for the transformation of the Kimball Art Center (KAC) is inspired by the example of the aspen tree growing in the Wasatch mountain range and by the KAC’s mission to serve as the heart of Park City’s creative community. The incredible diversity and reach of the roots of this remarkable tree - the oldest (80,000 years old) and largest (6,600 tons) living organism on our planet – evoke the history and potential reach of the KAC network. The design is rooted in the KAC’s history and will serve future generations with a heightened awareness of sustainable design, energy production and consumption, and environmental conditions unique to the Mountain West.
The civic activity of Park City is brought into the building through the open and welcoming entry plaza. The café and lobby serve as an urban living room for the community inviting residents and visitors into the main space which flows in directly from Main Street and Heber Avenue. From the entrance and along Main Street, the passerby can circulate through the outdoor studio spaces to see ceramics, metalsmithing and welding activities, and witness the active production of art. A projection screen communicates to the public the events, programs and activities that are taking place within. Both the old and new are brought together in the lobby space with the combination of the brick wall of the original Kimball and the new wood and etched glass surfaces.
The tree metaphor provided the diagram for the project, whereby the roots of the tree serve as a thriving underground foundation from which the program spaces grow above. Surrounding the activity is the tree canopy, an etched, triple-glazed screen forming a dynamic circulation space filtering daylight in while also producing energy for the building. The screen embodies transformation through its ability to change dramatically from day to night and offers changing seasonal views of the mountains and activity on the street. The idealized western vernacular log architecture is present in the project with the central volume’s form, evoking the memory of a cabin in the aspen woods. The space is brought to life with the graphic texture of trees killed by bark beetles, salvaged in the Wasatch mountain area.